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AMT

Advanced Motion Technologies was a startup company based on a patented technology created by Fareid Asphahani, a PhD student in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, who I had met through the UW Science and Engineering Business Association (SEBA). The technology Fareid had patented used accelerometers and gyroscopes to measure ankle motion from inside of a shoe. This technology has the potential to replace motion capture labs, which are currently used for gait analysis. After talking with Fareid about his technology, we decided to form a team to compete in the 2008 UW Business Plan Competition. Our team also consisted of Abhishek Kumar, an MBA student, and Dhileep Sivam, a PhD student in Biomedical Informatics.

After looking into several potential markets for our technology, including healthcare and military uses, we decided the one that made the most sense was to use the technology in a running shoe to prevent overuse injuries and provide the runner with a virtual coach. An image of part of our team during the Investment Round of the BPC is shown below.

Photo: Erik Roby, Fareid Asphahani, Dhileep Sivam (left to right)

Unfortunately we did not make it past the Investment Round of the competition, however, we felt that our idea had some potential; I decided to continue trying to start AMT along with Fareid, Abhishek, and Fareid's father, Aziz Asphahani.

Over the next year I was the main driver attempting to move the company forward. This involved market and competitive research, patent research and preparation, seeking advice from business, medical, and running experts, attracting the interest of a law firm, product development firm, and research university, as well as pitching at events such as Entrepreneur University and Invest Northwest. Below is an image of the poster we presented at Invest Northwest.

Towards the end of my time with AMT, our main goal was to develop a prototype of our product that we would be able to demonstrate while trying to raise funding. We discovered that a graduate student, Stacy Morris Bamberg, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had created a device that was very similar to the technology AMT had patented. We were able to get in touch with Stacy, who had since become an assistant professor at the University of Utah. She was very interested in working with us to create a new prototype of the device and started putting together a proposal. The first image below shows the original device that Stacy had created while at MIT. The second image shows what the final product could look like; it would be similar to the Nike + iPod but would have two sensor components instead of one, and each sensor component would be able to detect translational motion in three axes and rotational motion in three axes, compared with the Nike + iPod's ability to detect only an impact.

When we received the proposal from Stacy, it unfortunately came with a higher price than AMT could afford without outside funding. We had also been speaking with Synapse, a local product development firm, about eventually creating a consumer level device for us; we went back to them to ask for help with a prototype. Synapse offered us space in their building to work on the project as well as assistance with some of the basic development. Synapse also put us in touch with Fenwick & West LLP, a law firm in Seattle that was interested in what we were working on and was willing to set up a deferred payment plan so we could start to set up the structure of the company before we tried to raise money.

As all of the pieces started to come together, we ran into a potential patent issue related to the market we were trying to enter and I was no longer in a financial position where I could continue with a startup company pre-funding. I stopped working with AMT in May of 2009 to pursue full-time employment. The files below show the poster we presented at Invest Northwest as well as a presentation we gave to the founders of Synapse as we were requesting their assistance in building a prototype of our device.

(Invest Northwest poster .pdf)

(Synapse presentation .pdf)

Team members: Aziz Asphahani, Fareid Asphahani, Abhishek Kumar, Dhileep Sivam